The Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) says the PF government has continued to suffocate the private media in Zambia.

And CCZ says the much talked about economic growth being recorded does not interpret into meaningful improvement of people’s livelihoods.

Meanwhile, CCZ says it has welcomed Government’s decision to regulate the registration of Churches and the conduct of prophets in the country.

CCZ president Rev Alfred Kalembo, in a statement reflected on several national issues, including President Edgar Lungu’s address to parliament.

He said it was sad that the public media was denying critical voices from being heard.

“While the private media has been accorded an opportunity to operate, the environment has not been conducive enough with various methods being used to suffocate its operations which include harassment, prosecution and intimidation of personnel, a situation which is not good for a growing democracy such as ours,” Rev Kalembo observed.

“We therefore would like to call for a free media starting with the public media which we expect to allow all citizens and political players to be given a platform to express their views and be heard.”

He further prayed for the enactment of the Access to Information Bill.

“We have also noted that for a long time, our lawmakers namely Parliament has neglected to enact the Access to Information Bill which has been on their table for over fifteen years now. The country needs a free press with access to information. This is what has enabled all developed countries to thrive in their democracy,” stated Rev Kalembo.

And Rev Kalembo wondered why the economic gains the country was said to be recording were not impacting on the poor people.

“It is evident that the much talked about growth and improvement in the economic outlook of the country does not interpret into meaningful improvement of people’s livelihoods who have continued to wallow in poverty, which poverty is on the increase as the President himself acknowledged in his address to parliament,” Rev Kalembo observed.

“Poverty levels in the country have reached unacceptably high levels with 54.4% of people living below the poverty line in urban areas and around 74% in rural areas. The growing gap between the rich and the poor is resulting in serious inequalities in the well-being and dignity of people.”

On government’s decision to regulate the registration of churches, Rev Kalembo said CCZ supports moves to flush out false prophets.

“The formulation of strong and viable policies to regulate Church registration, in an attempt to flush out false prophets, pastors and all other types of bishops, is well received and CCZ will support all measures taken in order to bring sanity to the body of Christ in Zambia,” Rev Kalembostated.

“This will ensure that vulnerable people, especially women and children, are protected from abuse in the name of God.”

He stated that President Lungu’s state of the nation address was a good phenomenon towards positive development.

“We acknowledge the report which the President presented to Parliament on Friday 17th March, 2017 as per requirement of the amended Constitution which states that he should report on the application of the National Values and Principles. This new phenomenal is a positive development. As a Christian organization we are passionate about this matter of morality and ethics and these are values which should be encouraged and supported by all Zambians at all times,” Rev Kalembo stated.

He attributed the excess abuse of drugs and alcohol amongst the youth to the high levels of poverty and unemployment.

“While many are making efforts to improve their lives by venturing into small businesses, the policy environment has not supported them by create enough resources to adequately support themselves. The economic environment that people are subjected to at the moment has resulted in many Zambians losing their integrity and dignity,” he stated.

“Many people, especially the youth have ventured into degrading conducts such as criminal activities, alcohol abuse and prostitution resulting in the erosion of morals among people.”

Rev Kalembo further observed that Zambia’s tax revenue policies targeted at multinationals, were weak.

“Part of the challenge has been the existing weak and unstable policy environment governing taxing and tax regimes. We, as CCZ, stand ready to support government if it resolves to formulate strong and concrete policy that will enhance tax revenue collection from all multinationals investing in Zambia,” stated Rev Kalembo.

“The people of Zambia deserve to benefit from their own mineral wealth which wealth invested in the future generations. There is no reason why as a nation we should dance to the music of investors, they should in fact dance to our music because they are extracting our wealth given by God in our land for our betterment.”